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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Disquiet in BJP ranks: some see plot, others a mishandling; Varun red-flags

Key BJP state leaders are on the backfoot hoping the situation doesn’t snowball.

Written by Ravish Tiwari , Liz Mathew , Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: October 5, 2021 10:12:58 am
During a protest in Lakhimpur Kheri

While a section in the BJP sought to suggest that the Lakhimpur Kheri violence in which Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s cavalcade run over four protesting farmers and four more died in violence, was a “pre-planned conspiracy,” and insinuated “Khalistani links,” there’s an unmistakable disquiet in the ruling BJP months ahead of Assembly elections.

Key BJP state leaders are on the backfoot hoping the situation doesn’t snowball.

“Raita phail gaya hai,” (the mess has spread) said one Cabinet Minister in the Yogi government. Another Minister expressed his anguish at the leadership’s handling of the situation.

“Humko dono taraf se nuksaan hai. Hamara (BJP) karyakarta bhi mara aur sarkar bhi katghare mein khadi hai.” (We are hurt both ways, BJP workers are killed and the government is also in the dock.).

“Political feedback is set aside, never discussed. When you rely only on bureaucratic feedback, this is what happens,” added the minister underlining that even the bureaucracy had no sense of the build-up in the district.

“Aisi paristhitiyon mein faaltu ki bayanbaazi se bacha jaata hai aur saanyam rakha jaata hai. Lekin kya kahein,” added the second minister underlining how the political culture under the current leadership encourages a strong, adversarial attitude. They cite Mishra’s provocative remarks a week before the incident considered to have fueled local resentment against farmers who planned protests against his function.

Farmers pay tribute to those killed in Lakhimpur (Express photo/Vishal Srivastava)

“I travelled across several districts for the party’s organisational work in western UP today. There was no visible agitation except SP workers in their red caps at some places,” said a UP BJP office bearer who travelled to Saharanpur to attend a meeting chaired by former Haryana Minister Captain Abhimanyu who is poll incharge for western UP and Braj regions.

Another Cabinet minister in the UP government was more circumspect: “I didn’t notice the agitation spreading to other places…Let us wait and watch.”

On Monday, BJP national secretary Y Satya Kumar, who is also the party’s co-in-charge for UP, tweeted: “Was terrorist Bhindranwale a farmer? The way goons posing as farmers are carrying out violent agitations in Uttar Pradesh, it seems this is not a coincidence but a well-planned experiment. Jihadi and Khalistani, anarchic elements want to spread unrest in the state.”

BJP UP spokesperson Harish Chandra Srivastava also alleged that Khalistanis had killed BJP workers in Lakhimpur on Sunday.

Incidentally, the senior leadership has not come down against these claims of Khalistan links.

Farmers during a protest in Lakhimpur (Express photo/Vishal Srivastav)

Meanwhile, BJP MP from Pilibhit Varun Gandhi cautioned that using “pejorative and demeaning” language against the “struggling farmers” is “unfair and cruel” and that it could lead to “further reaction among the people who at the moment are very peaceful.”

“This is extremely unfortunate and it is also dangerous for the country. Because instead of understanding what the struggling farmers are saying we cannot start using pejorative language for them,” Gandhi told The Indian Express.

He was reacting to Srivastava’s tweet.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Gandhi said that violence erupted after an individual or a group acted in criminal negligence and the administration cannot be blamed.

Family members of the farmers killed in Lakhimpur incident.

Pointing out that the community under attack has a “disproportionate presence in the armed fo rces,” the three-term MP warned: “It’s a community that has laid their lives down generation after generation to protect our nation and they are a community that is completely selfless in the way they sacrificed their lives. If we are going to talk about them in demeaning and pejorative terms, it is not only unfair and cruel but it (could) also, God forbid, lead to a reaction among people who at the moment are very peaceful…When you keep prodding somebody with the pejorative stick, sooner or later people will react which is dangerous for our country. This is something we have to stay miles away from.”

Gandhi, who had written to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath seeking relief measures for the distressed and agitating farmers, wrote to the CM again Monday seeking to register a murder case against those involved in the death of farmers. And asked the CM for a CBI inquiry in a time-bound manner under the supervision of the Supreme Court.

Gandhi, a former general secretary of the BJP, also said the political leaders could wait for tempers to simmer down before visiting the area. “My view is that everyone must be allowed to go everywhere, practice free disposition of their views and total participation in any kind of mass movement politics…it’s Constitutional. However, this must be done once the situation calms down a bit so that because of politics, the situation isn’t inflamed,” he said.

Earlier in the day, in his letter to the Chief Minister, the Pilibhit MP called the “cruel incident of mowing down” as “ heart wrenching” and that it had triggered anguish and anger among people across the country. He said there should be a compensation of Rs 1 crore to the next of each victim’s family.

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